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Szijjarto: Hungary won’t give up energy security for political reasons

Hungary refuses to give up its energy security for any political reason, the minister of foreign affairs and trade said on Wednesday, adding that though the country was working hard to diversify its energy supplies, it had no intention of phasing out Russian energy imports.

Speaking at a panel discussion with Milorad Dodik, the Serbian member of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s presidential troika, at an energy forum in Trebinje, Szijjarto said Hungary was directly impacted by the negative effects of the armed conflict in Ukraine.

Hungary is in a special situation given that it is a landlocked country and imports most of the energy it consumes, he said.

“We view the question of energy as a part of physical reality,” Szijjarto said. “And we would like it if the world applied a grounded approach to at least the issue of energy consumption,” the minister said. This requires natural gas sources and pipelines, “otherwise we’re fostering illusions”, he added.

Hungary applies a realistic approach to energy, he said, adding this meant realising that it was physically impossible to guarantee the security of the country’s natural gas supply without Russian imports. “It’s not impossible politically, but physically,” he emphasised.

Hungary’s government has made considerable efforts for the long-term diversification of the country’s energy mix, but it takes time for these to be successful, Szijjarto said.

Natural gas pipelines cannot be built overnight, the minister said, adding that it was possible that Hungary would no longer require Russian gas imports in five to eight years’ time.

“We refuse to give up our own energy security for any political reason,” Szijjarto said.

Diversification means involving as many sources as possible in the energy mix, not just swapping one dependence for another, he said, adding that Hungary would be counting on Russian energy along with other sources in the future, too.

Szijjarto said Russia’s Gazprom had proven itself to be a reliable partner, and because that partnership was not subject to sanctions, there was no reason to phase out Russian energy.

Meanwhile, he said the ten sanctions packages imposed on Russia by the European Union had failed to “bring Russia to its knees” and the war was “more brutal than ever”.

As regards potential sanctions against Dodik, Szijjarto said that as long as the current government remained in power in Hungary, “President Dodik will definitely not be added to any sanctions list.”

“Those who think that sanctions can accomplish anything in the Western Balkans have no idea about the situation in the Western Balkans,” Szijjarto said.

Peace and stability in the Western Balkans is crucial for Hungary, he said, adding that this could best be upheld by promoting economic growth in the region.

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